HeadLine: I’m not getting carried away this time around
The Mirror, 22/10/2004, p12 &13
by SHAUN MILNE
JUST a week ago she was busking in the rain for loose change on the
streets of her native Glasgow, simply hoping to pay the rent.
Now Amy Bell is on the brink of musical stardom after record company
chiefs finally worked out what locals have known for years.
Tiny in stature, massive in voice.
Like a pocket-sized Sharleen Spiteri bursting to get out and show the
world what this west end girl can do.
And after receiving a rapturous reception at London’s Royal Albert Hall
singing alongside Rod Stewart, at last Amy, 22, is about to get her chance.
Tomorrow she will be locked away in a studio for her record label,
Dharma, after bosses decided she could just be the next big thing.
She’ll record a cover of the song she sang with Rod, his classic hit I
Don’t Want To Talk About It, which will be rushed out to the shops in
time for Christmas.
But still Amy scoffs at the idea that she might challenge Band Aid III
to top spot in the singles chart.
“No way, not a chance,” she says, “but it’s still really exciting all
the same. I’m just chuffed to be getting a shot. But I’m not getting
It’s been a whirlwind few days for Amy, who is still adjusting to the
new interest in her talents.
Already she’s spent most of the day in a photo-shoot, and then yet
another hour in the freezing cold for us, strumming her guitar to give
the perfect shot.
But “it’s Baltic out there,” is her only tiny gripe when brought safely
back into the warmth of the City Inn in Glasgow, just a 10-minute
drive from her home in Knightswood.
Because she knows this is her big chance, and her professionalism is
already shining through.
She’s already got a touch of the “cool showbiz” about her, with her
smouldering looks and shock black hair.
A disarming aura of quiet confidence as her cherry red lips savour her
Morgan’s and coke, laughing heartily about the whole experience.
Four women of blue rinse vintage nearby crane their withering necks to
watch as she has her picture taken yet again, with one remarking:
“She must be famous.”
But Amy, dressed in showbiz black and lugging her trusty guitar, can
only laugh when asked about her new-found celebrity status and the way
people have started treating her.
She said: “My mates are all like, ‘oh, remember us when you’re rich and
famous’, and I’m like, ‘shut up’. It’s mental.
“I’ve not had people stopping me in the street or anything, but if
I’ve been in a taxi or anything, the drivers are like, ‘oh, you’re that
busker, aren’t you?'”
It was while busking that Amy was spotted by one of Rod Stewart’s
“people”, who’d her tracked down.
That led to her appearance at the One Night With Rod Stewart Prince’s
Trust charity concert at the Albert Hall in London.
Singer Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders and Rolling Stone Ronnie
Wood were also on the star-studded bill but it was Amy who caught the
headlines, leaving them in the shade.
Since then she’s done radio shows, more radio shows, and has been
interviewed by most of the UK-based Press.
But despite it all, she’s still been out busking in Ashton Lane and
Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.
She says: “It’s been great, very tiring, but I’ve still got bills to
pay so this is what I’ve got to do.
“The people of Glasgow have been great, they’ve always been great, and
usually I can make ends meet.
“But it’s bloody freezing just now and I just hope that this can lead
on to something for me.
“Jinty, who runs Jinty McGinty’s pub, has been great with me. If it
starts raining she tells me to come in, and gives me the tenner I would
have made to play inside.
“And there’s free drinks too, so normally I end up hammered like the
“I was on the radio the next day singing, and my voice was like ‘haaaacccckkkk’.
“I really need to start looking after myself, it’s too much trying to
do it 24 hours a day.
“But I had Sunday off, which was good. I’d love to afford a holiday to
somewhere hot though.”
Having been jamming since she was only 14, Amy’s been a regular on the
Glasgow pub circuit since she was 17, though swears none of the
landlords knew she was under-age.
Most recently, she’s been playing at the famous Scotia Bar near the
River Clyde, a one time haunt of the banjo-playing comic Billy
She said: “It’s great in there, we play a lot of Saturday afternoons
and then stay for the folk session.
“It’s really, really great.”
By we, she means her new band, Amy Bell and The Ends, although now it’s
really just called Amy Bell (We thought the name was funny then changed
our minds,” she admits).
Older brother Gavin, 27, plays bass, and is joined by his old school mate
John McInnes and drummer friend Kenny Hislop.
If all goes well, more singles should follow, then an album and then a
tour of the UK.
Today Amy is to appear on GMTV, who filmed her in Ashton Lane yesterday.
But she’s smart enough to know that it all could go wrong, having been
there before in the past.
At school she passed her Standard Grade exams, but it was never her
Aged 17, she moved to London in search of a record deal and her first
break came when she and two other girls formed the Alice Band.
They wrote and recorded songs in Canada, and signed a recording
deal which spawned three singles: One Day At A Time, Now That You Love
Me and Nothing On But The Radio, complete with dodgy looking videos.
The singles may have bombed but they got the chance to play on the same
bill as legends including Neil Young at The Fleadh festival in Ireland,
and Bob Dylan in Kilkenny during his stay at Slane Castle.
Amy said: “I’ve never, ever claimed that I’ve not tried this before. I
had a go, it didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean I was going to give
up on my music.
“With each single, we thought ‘this is going to be the one’, but it
never happened for us.
“That’s why I’m not getting carried away this time around.
“I know that it might not happen for me. But I won’t accept people
saying I’m some kind of fraud.”
“I’ve got bills to pay, food to buy, rent to meet – busking is my only
source of income.
“That’s why I’m working so hard now I’ve had this break, but it’s
tiring. But I love it, I love singing, writing, everyone is being so
supportive. But we don’t know how it will go.”
Apart from those passers-by who lob change in Amy’s direction, huge
support comes from her family.
Dad George is a university pathologist, and mum Sharon has been
collecting every snippet of news about their daughter.
As well as Gavin, she has another brother, Graeme, 29, who is also a
Boyfriend Kevin Young, 22, from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, is a martial arts
teacher but also plays in a band.
He rings during the interview to announce that he’s just got some stunt
“Ha – that’s money!” Amy giggles, taking another slug of her drink.
But for now, they know Amy must focus on cashing in on this opportunity
A gig at King Tut’s in Glasgow is planned, BBC Scotland want her to
star on the Hogmanay show, and she’s due to play a live set for Women’s
Hour on Radio 4.
And with Rod Stewart playing the SECC in Glasgow on May 1, what are the
chances of an invite to join him on stage in her home city to reprise
the Royal Albert gig?
“Man, that would be awesome. It would be incredible,” she gushes when
asked if she’d like a crack at it.
At this rate, who’d bet against Amy Bell staging her own gigs at the
SECC in the not too distant future?
Not us, that’s for sure.